Friday, October 20, 2006

Stuck in a Hallway - Lond Island Advance Column

This is my fourth guest column for The Long Island Advance. It may sound familiar to some of you who have been reading this blog for a while. It's the second "Stuck in a Hallway" piece, and yet, this is a bit different from the first....

I really dislike the expression “When one door closes, another door opens.” Especially when you’re really feeling like you’re stuck in a dark hallway with the door behind you almost completely closed, and you have no idea where the end of the hallway is, or if there will be another door once you get to it.

I was stuck in a hallway for long time. Probably close to a year. And it was dark and I had no flashlight or even a book of matches. In my case, a scented candle would have been nice, but I didn’t have one of them either. I had to start out walking down my hallway pretty much in total darkness. For about a year, I just stood…. still bathed in a tiny bit of light from that almost closed door, and when I finally started to move and got further away from it, the journey became more difficult, at least for a while. Gradually though, I started to see a glimmer of light ahead of me, and now, after two years I think I’m about ready to finally step through the door that I found at the end, and wow, does it look bright!

I did a lot of walking to get down this hallway and it wasn’t always easy. Patience was needed to accomplish this and it is not one of my virtues. I painted a bedroom, purchased a small amount of furniture, found a part time writing job, went back to school, bought a car, sat on my parents and my friend’s couches and cried, started going to the movies by myself, learned to balance my checkbook, went through a lot of boxes filled with stuff from my old life and had a yard sale, learned to smile at interesting people, joined a writing group, and have made a number of new, interesting friends. I will soon graduate with a Bachelor’s degree and have started interviewing on a quest for a new job that will hopefully allow me to swim in deeper water. Yes, it has been a busy year and a year that has finally allowed me to see the progress that I have made in very concrete ways.

It’s hard to do this sort of personal writing in a small, local newspaper. In many ways it would be far easier to write for a much larger publication, which would feel more anonymous. It’s difficult to be an unknown when you are writing about what it feels like to get a new life and your picture and name appear above your writing, in the small town that you’ve lived in for your entire life. It makes writing the more difficult stuff, impossible. For me though, this is the only kind of writing that I can do right now. It sounds a bit self-centered, this writing that is “all about me,” and yet it really isn’t just about that.

In the short time that I’ve had to “write in my own voice” in this space that Brian Curry so graciously loans me, I’ve had the pleasure of talking to people who have read what I’ve written here, and who are able to relate to the experiences that I talk about. It’s reinforcing to realize that I am not alone in this “getting a new life” experience, and to have someone tell me that the words I have written have made a difference in their lives, is truly huge for me. Certainly we’re not talking major life changing differences, but subtle difference in the way people view themselves, where they are heading, and helping them realize that they can get there in one piece.

So, yes, in many ways this is all about me, and yet it is about so much more. If just one person reads this and realizes that although they may be stuck in a dark hallway now, that does not have to be the case forever, then my job for today is done.

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